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Ask a Dork: Summer Blockbusters

“What did you think of this year’s slate of summer blockbuster? What surprised/disappointed you?”

2012 was a big year for summer blockbusters. More than any other year as of late, we’ve been subject to massive releases and numerous instances of box office records being broken. Because there is such a lofty list of summer blockbusters, I figured I should break down my opinions on each of them in order to determine which ones flew high and which ones were absolutely unnecessary.

The Avengers – This was actually a bit of a surprise for me (put those comment boxes down and allow me to explain). Regardless of Joss Whedon’s skill as a character director or comic book fanboy, directing an ensemble piece film with a massive budget is an arduous task. This film had a lot of moving pieces and all-star egos. I’m still not exactly sure how, but Joss managed to give all the heroes adequate screen time while delivering an action packed blockbuster that didn’t feel like a pain to watch. 5/5 Thanos Bubbles.

Dark Shadows – Proof positive that Tim Burton is now phoning it in. All his hallmarks are here (gothic suburbia, period pieces, film noir, Johnny Depp), but the film lacks any heart or reasonable conclusion. Worse still, it ignores the source material and misrepresents the characters from the show it’s based on. 2/5 Vampire Bites.

The Dictator – A clear attempt at recreating the magic of Borat. Surprisingly enough, Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest satire actually holds up and even maintains a level of awkward intelligence. It won’t be getting any nods from the Academy, but I thought it was worth the price of admission. 3.5/5 Racial Epitaphs.

Battleship – Easily the worst film of the summer. Battleship has nothing to do with the original board game, squanders Liam Neeson, and is a blatant rip-off of Transformers. Avoid this film at all costs. 0/5 CGI Robots.

Men In Black III – While being better than the abortion that was Men In Black II, Men In Black III is proof positive that the series was never meant to be a franchise. The whole thing just feels kinda superfluous. I never thought a movie featuring time travel, Will Smith, and Aliens would be so freaking boring, but I found myself happy leave as soon as the screen faded to black. 2.5/5 Facepalming Aliens.

Rock of Ages – This film will appeal to middle age moms and teenage girls who have poor taste in music. It’s the perfect example what not to do with a Musical Movie. 1/5 Intelligent Rockers.

Snow White & The Huntsman – An overdone waste of freaking time. Watch Mirror Mirror instead. 1/5 Cheating Kristen Stewarts.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – Why is it that when a series has run fresh out of ideas, it goes on a eurotrip? This film is vapid. Save your money and just listen to, “I like to move it, move it” on repeat for about an hour. 2/5 Fruity Lions.

Prometheus – This sort-of prequel to the Alien franchise was supposed to be Ridley Scott’s grand return to Science Fiction. Personally, I didn’t mind the film that much, but it failed to live up to expectations and moved too slowly for it’s own good. 3.5/5 Xenomorphs.

That’s My Boy – Adam Sandler isn’t funny anymore. Get over it. 0/5 Laughs.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – A bad adaptation of a great book and a poor movie in its own right. It’s pretty to look at, but takes its subject matter a little too seriously and just feels really uneven. 2/5 Stovepipe Hats.

Brave – Brave is better on its second viewing, once you’ve accepted that its quality isn’t on par with other Pixar features. The problem is that its narrative has been done before (it’s basically a mix of Mulan, Brother Bear, and people with ginger hair) and it lacks the humanity and emotion that Pixar films were once known for. I hope Pixar’s next feature rises above Cars 2 and Brave. 3.5/5 Adorable Bears.

The Amazing Spiderman – Significantly better than I thought it was going to be. This reboot doesn’t waste too much time on the origins story and the casting was great. If you are even remotely a Spiderman fan, you will adore this flick. 4/5 Snarky Webslingers.

Ice Age: Continental Drift – A series that is even more derivative and mundane than Madagascar. I’m not exactly sure why this franchise keeps going, but if this latest entry is any indication of it’s future – it should end now. This film is a waste of time and your hard-earned dollars. 1/5 Idiotic Sloths.

Ted – I can’t say I was expecting Seth MacFarlane’s first film to be anywhere near as awesome as it was. Ted is a smart film. A really smart film. It not only brings the funny from start to finish, but is completely self aware. Easily my favorite comedy of the year. 4.5/5 Foul-Mouthed Teddy Bears.

The Dark Knight Rises – Some people were a little too harsh on this film. It’s not the same as part two in terms of pacing because it was supposed to deal with the loose ends of part one. I like how it’s framed and it’s clear that a lot of time and love was spent in its conception. There are points when it moves a bit too slowly and fans looking for only action sequences will be let down, but it is also a solid conclusion to a wonderful franchise. 4.5/5 Lovable Orphans.  

The Bourne Legacy – The Bourne series at one point rivaled the Bond series in terms of bankability and popularity, but this outing just feels a little too plodding and dull. Everything that happens in this film has been seen before and despite some decent performances the whole thing feels a little soulless. 2/5 Pointless Action Sequences.

Total Recall – This film completely misses the point of the original Total Recall. It was popular because it was dumb. By taking the same premise and being far too serious with it, the audience is left to twiddle their thumbs and wait for the big dumb ending. A boring, stupid waste of time. 0.5/5 CGI Yawns.

The Expendables 2 – Surprisingly better than the original and a decent film to watch if you’re craving action. Everything is bigger in Expendables 2 and the cast were all used to their fullest. 3.5/5 80s Action Heroes.

ParaNorman – A beautiful stop-motion zombie film. The humor is awesome, the plot is actually interesting, and it’s the cutest monster film you’ll see this summer. 4/5 Dead People.

So yeah, overall we had a pretty decent summer for blockbusters. More than enough disappointments for my liking, but also a nice assortment of surprises.

Trent Seely

I'm not that crazy about me either.

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